Balancing Forces in High School Senior Portraiture: A Closer Look

Over the last five years, I’ve been photographing high school senior portraits. While it wasn’t my initial choice in photography genres, this particular field eventually won out and now makes up my favorite genre of photography.

If you’re new to the genre, remember a few basic rules and understand both competing forces. Even more crucially is how best to approach those forces so that both can emerge victorious.

Before we proceed further, please keep in mind that what I am outlining here are simply guidelines; they do not represent absolutes. Curious to learn more? Read on!

Mom: the Primary Influencer with High School Senior Portrait Sessions Mothers tend to organize high school senior portrait sessions for their sons, often making clothing selection decisions on their behalf much to their displeasure.

If you haven’t been a parent yourself, know that moms still cherish the vision of their little boy or girl since birth – although without experience as one yourself it might be hard to comprehend this concept.

Mom may regard a high school senior portrait as one of their crowning achievements when it comes to their beloved child. Parents tend to struggle with coming to terms with their children leaving home for good and this may be one of the final events over which they still exert some degree of control, so it is crucial that we remain sensitive.

Moms typically want their son or daughter’s image to reflect a healthy and beautiful aura, and during an initial consultation I usually ask what she hopes to gain from the shoot in terms of results – the response usually being “I want a nice image for graduation cards and display in our home”.

What this means is, mom has an ideal picture in mind of their son or daughter that encompasses how they see them – an image she is convinced will convey how she perceives their son or daughter. Unfortunately, however, what mom envisions may differ drastically from what the child thinks they deserve for themselves.

If you specialize in wedding photography, think of the wholesome photo as equivalent to family pictures at a wedding – an image which nearly always secures sales.

Force number two…

As you prepare to pose your son or daughter for his or her senior portraits, try to remember two key rules about these young people:

Girls want to feel beautiful; boys simply want their photo taken without embarrassing themselves in front of friends.
If you are photographing high school senior girls, I highly suggest professional hair and makeup services as part of your package cost. Consider working out an arrangement with local professionals who could come out pre-shoot as well as touch-ups during their shoot – I want them to experience it like it’s their spa visit!

An alternative approach would be to suggest hair and makeup services to Mom, and have her arrange the service prior to coming in the studio. High school girls tend to be adept at choosing clothes they feel great in; many young women who visit our studio come ready to be photographed in their favorite looks.

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